04/11/2007 11:00PM

Cox hopes L'Argent will be ready to fire

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Gail Cox wasn't quite prepared for the cold weather when she checked into Woodbine with her eight-horse string last Sunday.

But Cox, who had been based in Florida since the beginning of December, will be looking to heat things up when she sends out L'Argent in Saturday's $125,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes.

"They say horses ship better from hot to cold," said Cox, who had been at Payson Park. "L'Argent likes the cold, actually."

A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old owned by Sprott Racing Inc., L'Argent also likes Polytrack, based on his two front-running victories in as many tries over the surface here last October.

Those successes came under first- and second-level allowance terms after L'Argent returned from a five-month absence.

"He bucked his shins on the old main track," said Cox, noting that L'Argent had encountered sloppy strips that apparently were not to his liking in his first two starts here last spring. "And when they were converting the racetrack [to Polytrack], I didn't want to run him on the inner track."

While the Jacques Cartier will represent the sternest test to date for L'Argent, Cox has been pointing her stable star for the race and is optimistic.

"He's pretty nice," said Cox. "He had a very good winter and, hopefully, it will help to have some winter training. He's quite an aggressive guy anyway, and he breezed very well at Payson just before he left. He's ready to go."

Promising runners in Cox's barn

Cox's charges also include Maria Clarissa, a 6-year-old mare who was stakes-placed on the turf here last year, and Stellar Time, a 4-year-old filly who has not seen action since finishing an encouraging third in her debut here in June 2005.

"She's doing very well now," said Cox. "I entered her at Gulfstream, but the race never filled."

Cox also trains Imeanseriously, a 3-year-old filly who showed some promise in her only appearance here last fall, and Hoping for Glory, a 3-year-old colt who has yet to start.

And then there are the 2-year-olds.

Bold Maneuver, a filly by Bold Executive, and Typhoon Tempest, a colt by Stormin Fever, were foaled in Ontario. Gladwyne, a Marquetry colt, and Simply Splendid, a Maria's Mon filly, are Kentucky-breds.

"I don't think I'll go for the quarter-mile races," Cox said of the 2-year-old dashes that begin this weekend. "But they're all doing well. Simply Splendid is quite forward."

Seductively may need more ground

Seductively, a 4-year-old who was a graded stakes winner of almost $350,000 in 10 starts here last year, will be making her 2007 debut in Sunday's Grade 3, $125,000 Whimsical Stakes.

But Ian Black, who trains Seductively for the Kinghaven Farm of David Willmot, believes the six-furlong Whimsical may be a difficult spot for the filly to show her true colors.

"It's probably a little short," said Black, who sent out Seductively to breeze four furlongs in 48 seconds here Wednesday. "I don't expect she'll be able to make the lead. I hope to see her closing."

Seductively's most productive outings here last year were front-running tries around two turns as she won the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Selene and finished third in the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks.

"It's hard to say she doesn't go two turns after the Selene and the Oaks," said Black. "But her optimum distance is probably seven furlongs."

Seductively closed out her campaign with two starts at that distance, winning a second-level allowance and then finishing third in the Jammed Lovely on Nov. 12 before heading to nearby Kinghaven Farm for the offseason.

"We turned her out for six weeks, and then trained her on the indoor track there," said Black. "I think she's more mature this year - she seems more relaxed."

Black looks in good shape for meet

Black, longtime farm manager for Kinghaven before taking out his trainer's license in 2005, has 18 stalls and is off to a good start at the meeting with a win and a second from his first two entrants.

Piece of the Pie, an Ontario-sired 3-year-old filly, won a five-furlong maiden special last Saturday, and To the Brim, an Ontario-sired 4-year-old filly, finished second in a first-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Black also is looking for good things from Prophetically and Lyrically, a pair of 3-year-old fillies owned and bred by Kinghaven.

Prophetically, who is out of Torrid Affair and is a half-sister to Seductively, is at Keeneland. Lyrically, who is out of Torrid Affair's dam, Lover's Talk, breezed five furlongs from the gate in 1:02.40 here Wednesday and will make her debut Sunday in a five-furlong maiden special.

Black also has taken on Thinking Out Loud and Moon Worship, a pair of 4-year-old colts, for new client D. Morgan Firestone.

Thinking Out Loud won the Coronation Futurity here at 2 but failed to light the board in five starts last year, while Moon Worship placed in two stakes as a 2-year-old but was well beaten in his only 2006 outing.

Just Rushing not ready yet

Trainer Sid Attard has horses nominated to both weekend stakes, but Just Rushing, a 6-year-old gelding who was on the list for the Jacques Cartier, will not participate.

"He's not really ready yet," said Attard, who claimed Just Rushing for $40,000 here in the fall of 2005 and sent him out to seven straight victories, including the Mt. Sassafras and Labeeb last year.

A newcomer to the Attard barn, Cut the Mustard, is scheduled to make her local bow for Tucci Stable in the Whimsical.

Cut the Mustard, a 5-year-old, is a speed-oriented type who has won 8 of 26 starts and $241,845. She was unplaced in her last start, which came on the turf at Fair Grounds, and had previously been racing in Northern California.

"She's okay," said Attard, who sent out Cut the Mustard to breeze four furlongs in 50.20 here Tuesday. "She has lots of speed and she's fit."

* Jim Bannon and Jim Mazur will hold handicapping seminars here Saturday and Sunday, with both one-hour sessions beginning at 11 a.m. on the second floor of the grandstand. Saturday's session will focus on the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, while Sunday's will center on racing at Woodbine.